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A man with a violent past has been arrested and charged with 10 felonies in connection with the kidnap, rape and murder of a 13-year-old North Carolina girl who was abducted from her driveway last month.
Michael Ray McLellan, 34, has been charged with of first-degree murder, first-degree forcible rape and first-degree kidnapping along with a string of other charges in the death of Hania Aguilar.
Aguilar disappeared Nov. 5 after she had gone outside her home before school to start a relative's car and was forced into the running car by a man wearing a yellow bandana over his face. Her body was found three weeks later in a pond near her home.
Investigators were able to trace the crime to McLellan through forensic evidence found in the stolen vehicle, according to joint press release from the Lumberton Police Department and the FBI. Investigators received more than 850 leads and conducted almost 500 interviews in the case.
"This has been an extremely complex and heartbreaking case," Erich Hackney, an investigator for the Robeson County District Attorney's Office told The Robesonian. "The resources and police work by the agencies involved has been nothing less than phenomenal and has involved thousands of man-hours to bring us to this point."
McLellan was already in law enforcement custody at the time of the arrest, having been been arrested by Lumberton Police on Nov. 13 on unrelated charges, just over a week after the teen was kidnapped.
Before he allegedly crossed paths with Aguilar, he spent almost a decade in prison after being convicted of assault and burglary.
He was released in February of 2016, but a year later was convicted of felony breaking and entering, The Robesonian reports.
He was released from that prison stint in June. On Nov. 13, he was arrested again by the Lumberton police on outstanding warrants for second-degree kidnapping, attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm by a felon in an unrelated case, according to the Tribune News Service.
News of the arrest in the Aguilar case came just as friends and family gathered to remember her at a memorial service held Saturday at Lumberton High School. The gym was filled with purple balloons, flowers and bows in honor of the young teen's favorite color.
More than 1,000 attended the service, which was held in both Spanish and English.
"I found out she got kidnapped and I never saw her again," friend Madison Bullock, 15 said through tears according to WTVD. "She loved to talk with her friends and play on her phone, laugh, smile. We miss her smile."
Her father Noe, was unable to attend the service after failing to secure a temporary visa from Guatemala but had sent a letter to be read at the service.
"Rest in peace, my princess," it read.
Those in attendance said they were glad a suspect has been arrested in the case.
"If he's guilty, he has to pay," Ines Gonzales said through an interpreter, according to the news service.
[Photo: AP/FBI Charlotte]
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